PTWCOS (ptochos)

From: Edward Hobbs (
Date: Thu Apr 18 1996 - 17:39:33 EDT

Ken Litwak's question about the meaning/translation of PTWCOS needs to be
repeated often. "Poor" is certainly inadequate (for that, PENHS is fully
adequate). The English words "destitute," "beggarly", "miserable," are
surely nearer to the general Hellenistic usage. (Don't quote LXX back to
me; they were often desperate for synonymies when translating [esp. the

I strongly suspect that the major culprit in our tendency to translate with
"poor" is Matthew 5; who wants to be "spiritually destitute"? On the other
hand, we've never really been comfortable with Luke's (original?) version
of the saying either: Is it possible that those who are blessed by God are
the (truly) destitute?

Query: Were the Evyonim of the first century really and truly destitute?
Or were they just poor enough to plausibly draw Paul into gathering his
Great Collection for them? Or were they (at least in Matthew's church)
simply fashionably "poor", cancel that last (it's just a streak of
cynicism in me that comes out when I compare Matthew and Luke).

Edward Hobbs

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